Dear TransLink: Please open the boardroom door

Directors' March 30 meeting is the only one scheduled during TransLink expansion funding plebiscite

During a March 23 guest appearance on the Mike Eckford Show on CKNW AM 980, I announced that I had formally requested access to be a fly-on-the-wall at the March 30 meeting of the TransLink board of directors. (See my email letter below.)

TransLink has a $1.4 billion-a-year budget, half of which is from taxation, but its board meets behind closed doors four times a year after allowing a short time for registered members of the public to ask questions. Municipal councils around Metro Vancouver with smaller budgets meet in public, although they have the power to go in camera to discuss, debate and decide sensitive legal, land and labour matters. Why not TransLink?

TransLink chair Szel
TransLink chair Szel

TransLink’s unelected board need not ask for the BC Liberals to help it be transparent. The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act already grants TransLink’s board the power to:
.    supervise the management of the affairs of TransLink;
.    establish its own practices and procedures;
.    annually review and approve Business Plans;
.    appoint the Chief Executive Officer and establish his or her terms of employment;
.    select the Board Chair;
.    establish rules of procedure for the conduct of Board and committee meetings.

This is the only scheduled meeting of the board during the Metro Vancouver plebiscite on funding TransLink’s expansion. Will TransLink do the right thing and open the boardroom doors from now on, and let the public see how regional transportation and transit decisions are made?

I asked TransLink chair Marcella Szel to respond in-writing to my request by March 26. I will keep you posted (NOTE SCROLL DOWN FOR MARCH 27 AND MARCH 30 UPDATES).

Mobile users click here->Media Request for Access to Observe and Report on the March 30 2015 Board Meeting

UPDATE (March 27): I received the verdict. TransLink board chair Marcella Szel refused my request to observe and report on the March 30 TransLink board meeting. Another loss for openness and accountability.

UPDATE (March 30): I attended the TransLink headquarters in New Westminster and captured this image of the door being closed on the boardroom where directors began their meeting. Directors include Vancouver Mayor and Mayors’ Council chair Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor and Mayors’ Council vice-chair Linda Hepner. Robertson incorrectly blamed the provincial government when I asked if he would support opening the meetings to the public. Hepner said she was too new to comment on my question.

That is doubly troubling, that a board with taxation authority meets in secret and the only directors who hold a position of elected public office don’t advocate for public access.

Mobile users click here->Reply to Media Request for Access to Observe and Report on the March 30 2015 Board Meeting.jpg

6 thoughts on “Dear TransLink: Please open the boardroom door

    1. bobmackin Post author

      There never were direct elections for TransLink directors, though there should have been. The 2007 change to a vetted and appointed system was a mistake. But it is very important to note that the TransLink board has the statutory power to conduct its meetings any way it pleases. It chooses to do so behind closed doors. It can and should choose otherwise.

  1. Stephen Rees

    Have you tried to observe a Port Metro Vancouver Board meeting? Or YVR Airport? These boards are also responsible for public services, though both are subject to nominal federal “control”. And were the model on which the current Translink board was based, I think.

  2. bobmackin Post author

    I have pestered the chairs and CEOs of those organizations and many others about this important topic. Both have staged annual public meetings, which are not actual board meetings. Here is a video of me in 2007 (unsuccessfully) pressing VANOC to open its board meetings. It is indefensible to shut the public out of viewing the decision-making process.

  3. Colleen Jordan

    Hi Bob,
    Re Translink March 30th meeting.
    I know you were not successful in attending this March 30th meeting, but on the agenda for that meeting was the 2014 Annual Reprot and Audited Financial Statements. These statements, which must have been approved at that meeting are still not up on their website. What are they trying to hide?
    Colleen Jordan


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